Toronto Nightlife After COVID-19
It’s been a long year and a half without being able to go out and enjoy Toronto’s iconic nightlife scene, and we know a lot of you are itching to go out and party like we all used to pre-pandemic.
Not only have people missed out on celebrating their birthdays at the club, but the overall vibe of the city has completely changed considering everyone is now just staying home. Since clubs, restaurants and patios have been closed, we noticed this year and last that people have been hitting Toronto’s parks and beaches when the weather is warm to make up for all of the lost time in lockdown, but there is no comparison to being downtown in the financial district with a huge group of friends socializing and getting bottle service at a club.
Unfortunately it’s been a tough time for everyone including healthcare workers, local businesses and the entertainment industry alike due to the fact that COVID-19 has kept us in a perpetual state lockdown. The bright side is that with Ontarians finally getting vaccinated there is light at the end of the tunnel and it looks like it’ll be possible to actually enjoy summer this year before winter rolls around again.
Disclaimer: Top Toronto Clubs does not advocate breaking local, provincial, or federal laws and/or regulations. Please refer to the local, provincial and federal government’s COVID-19 guidelines before proceeding to go out.
THE EFFECTS OF CORONA ON TORONTO NIGHTLIFE
Unfortunately the effect on clubs, bars and lounges in Toronto due to the coronavirus has been a negative one. Considering clubs could not operate during corona (although partially were able to as sit-down bottle service or patios for minimal time last year), the losses taken due to leasing prices and property tax were substantial. Additionally some venues allegedly chose to defy lockdown requirements and held illegal get-togethers which were considered ‘secret parties’ which resulted in hefty fines and closures.
When clubs reopen fully at the end of this year (around September/November), expect many common names to be gone, and multiple locations to completely rebrand due to changes in ownership and management. Notable closures are fan favourite ‘Goldie’ which have had all branding removed from the premise. Some clubs you can expect to survive the Quarantine period include EFS, Lavelle and Baro.
We at Top Toronto Clubs are staying in touch with club owners as well as surveying the Toronto Club districts keeping our eyes out for closures, reopening and rebrandings. We will be keeping a list of venues that are open below in this article, however if you want to stay in the know, follow us on instagram @toptorontoclubs and sign up for our newsletter below.
WHAT’S OPEN NOW?
At the time of writing this article local businesses and restaurants are open for business and are able to accommodate groups of up to 4 people per table which is good news if you want to hit a local bar and or club with a patio in the city with a small group of friends. This is a nice jump up from the few months during the full lockdown where businesses were open but only limited to serving food and alcohol through take-out, delivery, or curb-side pickup.
Currently you can go to any club, bar, supperclub, or restaurant with a patio and you’ll be able to enjoy food and/or alcohol with friends and enjoy a small taste of what life was like before COVID-19 hit. The one thing to note however is that every venue is different so you may need to make reservations ahead of time to ensure you are able to snag a table at your favourite spot. On top of that, if a venue doesn’t have a patio, or hasn’t adapted to create a patio environment, it’s unlikely they’re open for dining / sit-down.
Beyond that several venues have closed due to the financial strain and hardship that COVID-19 has created with the highly reduced volume in business for a lot of these venues, so it’s always a good idea to research and check that the venue you want to visit is still open and offers dining.
TORONTO’S REOPENING PLAN:
Toronto’s reopening plan is set to be in three phases. We’ve included the official infographic for reopenings from the Ontario Government below, but we are going to break it down so you know what that means for restaurants, clubs, bars, patios and lounges.
STEP 1 – HAPPENING NOW
Step 1 will occur when 60% of adults are vaccinated in Ontario. Currently Ontario is above this threshold and hence ‘Step 1’ has commenced. During step 1 Patios will reopen, so restaurants, bars and clubs that have patios will be able to operate again in a seated format. The sit down limit is 4 people per table so you will be allowed to have 3 of your friends with you at your favorite location.
STEP 2 – JUNE 30 (Best Case Scenario)
If 70% of adults in Ontario are vaccinated by July 21, Ontario will move into ‘Step 2’. The difference between step 1 and 2 for restaurants, clubs and bars, is that the patio limit will now increase to 6 people per table. No other major changes will occur in this ‘Step’.
STEP 3 – JULY 21 (Best Case Scenario)
If 70-80% of adults in Ontario are vaccinated with 25% fully vaccinated, indoor dining will reopen with limited capacity. What this means for clubs, and bars is that you will be able to visit the club or bar again however only for ‘Seated Bottle Service/Drinks’.
What is Seated Bottle Service?
Seated Bottle service is similar to being in a restaurant at a table and ordering drinks by the bottle. You will be given a booth in the club to have you and your party sit down at. You will be able to enjoy the club ambiance and music, and will have bottles brought to your table in a similar way as the club has always done bottle service with bottle girls and lights. However the main difference is the club will have limited capacity, with the number of tables they will have, and there will be no dancing and mingling.
WHAT’S HAPPENING IN THE CURRENT PHASE?
In Step 1 Patios are now currently open. You are able to go out to any venue that includes clubs, bars, lounges and restaurants, that have a patio and will be able to sit with up to a maximum of three of your friends. Note that mingling/socializing and standing up or dancing is not permitted, but seated service is currently being allowed by the Ontario Government.
If you are looking for venues that are aimed towards young professionals, students, and socialites of Toronto, we at Top Toronto Clubs have curated lists of the best patios aimed at this demographic. There are a few patios that are better suited for day drinking, those better for brunch, some better for a night time outing, and those better for food. We’ve tried to put it all together in our Patio Guide <link to patio guide page>.
For some notable patios from our Patio guide see below:
> PULL HIGHLIGHTED VENUES HERE
WHATS HAPPENING NEXT?
As we have mentioned after patios reopen and limits are raised from 4 people per table to 6 people per table, the next thing you will expect is indoor dining to be reopened.
You will be able to have the same limited capacity patio experience but now inside. Additionally, clubs will be offering seated bottle service experience (see above for explanation). Expect seated service indoor and outdoor to be the norm for a while.
We don’t expect standing, dancing and socializing until at least September or November, so it’s not going to be a hot girl summer.
CLUBS THAT HAVE CLOSED?
Besides the fact that some major clubs have shut down pre-covid including Spice Route and Cure, there are a handful of clubs that we’re uncertain about. About 100 restaurants and bars have closed down in 2020 alone due to the economic and logistical environment covid has created, making these establishments completely unsustainable to continue to try to run.
Some of our favourite clubs that have shut down include the aforementioned Goldie Bar (which we’re hoping will re-brand and re-open with a similar vibe), the infamous Crocodile Rock, and Wildflower.
Again, we’re hoping that a lot of these spots will either re-brand and re-open but it’s very likely that a lot of these spots are permanently closed due to the fact that there is a lot of residential development happening in these old spots.
THE FUTURE OF TORONTO NIGHTLIFE AFTER CORONA
To summarize, Corona has had a major impact on the Canadian economy and the nightlife landscape, but as we all navigate through the reopening stages of Ontario there are still multiple unknowns for the future. Some of our favourite venues may continue to close, while others will rebrand. As clubs shift towards resto-lounge environments to find a way to operate in these phase limitations, there is also the question of whether they will revert back into a full club after restrictions are lifted, or whether they will continue to be resto-lounge environments. Multiple venues have invested major capital into creating new patios, and dining areas that were not previously a part of the original venue, and to discard them would be a waste. It will be interesting to see how the shift in clubs, bars and lounges will occur in the future.
Moreover, we expect to see a lot of rebranding of venues, and potential mergers or relocation of current venues as capacity limits restrict how clubs and lounges currently operate. We expect to see venues focused on patios first, and then to focus on indoor bottle service, and finally it is unknown when dancing and full socializing will be back on the table.
As these changes are constantly occurring, we at Top Toronto Clubs are staying on top of things by being in constant contact with club owners and by visiting the nightlife hotspots keeping our eye out for closures and new venues. Follow us on instagram to stay in the loop of toronto nightlife at @toptorontoclubs and sign up for our newsletter below to be sent updates and club/lounge specials during reopenings. We are dedicated to keeping you in the know of Toronto Nightlife and will be continuing to update our articles and publishing new content on the hottest venues and trendy spots in Toronto as life moves forward after the coronavirus pandemic is over.